Saturday, January 16, 2010

From The Lips Of...Amanda Watson

Today's guest blogger is a main character in the work-in-progress novel entitled "Overcome." Amanda Watson is the best friend and sidekick of the protagonist, Julie Knotts. She and Julie met when Julie's family moved next door when the girls were ten years old. At the time, Julie's family was reeling from the sudden death of Julie's younger sister, the victim of an accidental drowning. Amanda knows better than anyone the burdens her friend has struggled with ever since, but right now her energies are focused elsewhere. [Note: The following is NOT an excerpt from the novel. Rather, it is a creative writing exercise to help me capture her voice.] Yesterday (Friday), I "took" Julie to the mall. Here were her impressions:

There's something about the mall that lifts my spirits. The air itself is charged with an electricity that hums through me, and I'm not be the only one. I couldn't believe all the smiling faces! People walked with purpose and a skip in their strides, especially those with brightly colored plastic bags dangling from their arms and bouncing against their legs with each step. Maybe it's the scent of new clothes that intoxinates the masses, subconsciously calling upon childhood excitement reminiscent of the first day of a new school year. Or maybe my perception was just plain distorted. Being so crazy in love will do that to you.

I caught my reflection in Ann Taylor Loft's plate glass window as I approached the mall's main entrance. I swear I saw the diamond sparkle on my hand as I passed by. How is it possible that even its monochromatic reflection is gorgeous?

I entered the mall at the food court, a massive atrium with potted trees whose top branches reach the second level. Over the din of the crowded area I heard the birds that fly freely in the canopy twitter and chirp to each other.

I needed to visit the restroom first thing, so I headed in that direction. Walking toward me was the most beautiful little girl I've ever laid eyes on. She was tiny, perhaps three years old, though I'm a terrible judge of children's ages. She was dressed in a brown jumper with cream-colored tights and a matching turtleneck underneath. Her thin legs appeared more narrow by the chunky, camel-colored, Uggs-style boots on her feet. Her hair was the same light brunette as mine, and her mother (I presume) had gathered up the top-most section in an elastic and finished the hairstyle off with a large red bow. I couldn't take my eyes off her as she trotted along a few paces in front of her mother. I wondered what my and Paul's children will look like? An electric tingle shot through me following that thought. I realized how widely I was smiling.

I left the restrooms a few minutes later and headed toward Nordstrom's. I hoped there'd be reasonably priced dresses on the after-Christmas sales racks. It's funny; I've never been one to look at price tags when I need something new, never counted pennies before. But now that I have the wedding to plan, and a life ahead of me that promises a new home, children to raise, and college funds to plan for, I've noticed a shift in my priorities. For example, I don't want to spend a lot of money on a fancy dress for the benefit I have to attend next weekend. I rarely dress up to that extent; it's not like I attend a gala every other week. I'd rather put my money toward the important things in life, like my future.

I was enjoying these musings and thinking about Paul when the first kiosk worker stepped in my path. I almost stumbled into him. I politely declined the offer to test the sea salt exfoliater he tried pumping into my hand, but he wasn't easily dissuaded. The mall shouldn't allow those people to pester shoppers. There ought to be a square on the floor, a perimeter they can't cross, so that I'm not obligated to actually sidestep their persons.

It happened three times between the food court and Nordstrom's, the anchor store on the far end of the mall. I may have lost my mojo mood completely had it not been for the sight of all the little children playing in Simon Kidgits Klubhouse. An open-air romper room of sorts, it occupies a stretch in the middle of the mall corridor that has been sectioned off, fortified by benches on all four sides. Within the low wall of benches, colorful carpeting runs underneath climbing toys in the shapes of cars and dinosaurs. In the center is a clubhouse with gadgets and gears mounted on the walls, stimulating children's hand-eye coordination. Mothers chatted with one another, a vigilant eye always on their little tikes, and snapped pictures of the children's antics. My smile was back. I glanced down at the diamond shimmering on my finger, and daydreams of good times to come again flooded my mind.

I attracted the attention of a sales associate the moment I crossed the threshhold at Nordstrom's. When she asked me what I was shopping for, I surprised myself. Instead of inquiring about a sale on dresses, I asked on which floor I'd find children's clothes.